The official story is: Botched photo op, now fully compensated for by the resignation of Louis Caldera (the director of the White House Military Office):
Caldera submitted his resignation yesterday and to no surprise, it was promptly accepted. The White House wants the memory of this fiasco to fade — and fast....But look at the picture. Why would people going to all this trouble and expense to get a photograph that looked so awful?
The White House review of the incident shows that Caldera was informed of the mission but missed numerous chances to stop it from happening, failed to alert senior White House officials about it, nor did he even recognize that the public might have a reaction to seeing a jumbo jet tailed by military aircraft swooping down on the city.
Thanks to my commenters on last night's post for forcing me to think about this. First was rhhardin said:
It's not easy to take pictures when you're steering a fighter with your knees.Presumably, the picture was taken from the cockpit of one of the F16s that flew alongside Air Force 1. Here's what the cockpit looks like. There's no passenger seat. There's no room for a professional photographer. How does it make any sense to do a big photo shoot without a professional photographer?
Peter V. Bella said:
It took this long? Guy should have been fired the next day.Maybe it took so long because the story is more complicated.
Yeah. If they truly wanted to "update" the photos for PR purposes (??) why not do it *right*. Shooting out of a fighter plane window (while piloting said plane at only 1000' over a densely populated area) and including either a shadow or a portion of the fighter plane (lower right corner) in the picture is $328,000+ worth of amateur photography.Maybe the pilot took a photograph, but that can't have been the purpose of the flight. So JAL has the right question: Who was in Air Force 1?
They didn't get our money's worth.
So - who all was IN the big plane?
That's a poorly composed photograph. Positioning Liberty Island below the plane in that manner makes it look like the plane is a shitting bird and that the island is the pile of shit. Also the color is murky and excepting the Statue of Liberty, the scenery is a depressingly industrial swath of New Jersey. And the garbage barges or whatever they are in the harbor don't add any majesty to the photograph. The supergenius Obama kidz couldn't remove those with their mad Photoshop skillz? And what is the white streak in the upper right of the photograph, near the nose of the plane? It looks like reflection from shooting through a window.That's a great description of what a crappy photograph it is, but instead of exclaiming over how stupid they were to take such a bad photograph, I think we need to advance to the assumption that the flight cannot have been for photography purposes.
This is what we got for $357,012? Classic.
In defense of the incompetents, they're not allowed to photoshop anything.Some military rule?
rhhardin: That photo was photoshopped. It has the distinctive tags "JFIF", "Ducky", and "Adobe" in the header.I don't understand all that tech talk, but I think I want to say: Aha!
They apparently used Photoshop to remove the EXIF information from the file, lest we see that the photo was taken as a souvenir by the pilot with his $150 point-and-shoot.
Yes, I know. I've moved into conspiracy theory territory. It's not my thing, normally. But this is just staring me in the face, and I feel required to say what I see. The pieces don't fit. I want to know more. The Caldera resignation does not turn the page. Who was in Air Force 1?
(By the way, what are the 9/11 Truthers doing with this story?)
ADDED: An emailer with some experience writes:
A few facts that may be useful:
(1) The F-16 family of aircraft does in fact have two seater trainer versions (however, I haven't a seen a photograph of the F-16s accompanying the 747 that has sufficient clarity to determine if either is a trainer version.
(2) No F-16 pilot can "steer with his knees" as the aircraft is controlled by a sidestick controller that operates via a fly-by-wire system.
(3) The F-16 can be flown on autopilot.
(4) Pilots of large, expensive to operate and maintain military aircraft gain necessary flying hours by piloting smaller, cheaper aircraft such as T-38 trainers.
(5) No military aircraft leaves the ground, anywhere, without those high up on the chain of command knowing about it and authorizing it. This would be so for Air Force One unless the Obama administration allows the aircraft to be treated like a privately owned light aircraft hangered in Uncle Fred's barn.
That being understood, here are reasons why the F-16 is a particularly awful photography platform:
(1) The cockpit in even the trainer version is very tight, with both pilots tightly strapped into seats that recline sharply to assist in dealing with high G forces. This makes manipulating cameras of sufficient quality (required for good photos) and size difficult at best.
(2) The canopy of the F-16 is essentially a one piece, continually curved plexiglas bubble, introducing distortion, light flares, and all manner of other problems into the photography equation. No competent photographer would try to shoot through this kind of medium under these conditions unless they had no choice.
(3) Fighter aircraft, at the low speeds apparent in this situation, are barely above stall speed and subject to significant buffeting. They are not stable photographic platforms. This is true of any light aircraft, particularly when compared with much larger aircraft.
(4) The released photograph is indeed poor in quality in every facet of photography, particularly when one considers framing, background and composition. It looks like the kind of thing a fighter jock might shoot, one handed, with a little digital camera that would fit in a flight suit pocket.
I'm surprised that no one had demanded a list of the crews of all involved aircraft, and the opportunity to interview them absent White House minders. It would also be interesting to learn who the official "photographer" for this mission was and to find out why they were apparently flying in a very poor platform and what kind of training they had (was this person actually a military photographer? Was there, in fact, a qualified photographer on hand?) and equipment they used. One suspects that the story of this mission would be quite different if we could speak with those involved.
AND: Here's what official Air Force photographs actually look like.